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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi Folks,

So I am now learning that cherry wood grows dark with age! I am building this sofa table with a cherry base and walnut top. (See dry fitted version, attached). Can someone give me some simple guidelines to finishing the cherry? I guess the effect I was looking for into have the base be lighter than the top and to show the nice cherry grain and figure. Now I reading that it blotches and changes color! A simple step by step would be great. (Talk to me like I'm a 5 year old).

My last project was a table with pine top made from very old reclaimed wood. I believe I pre treated the wood with linseed oil cut with mineral spirits, per your suggestions. This forum's guidance got me through that project and the result was a finish that blotch free and quite successful. I look forward to your suggestions and tips on finishing this cherry wood.

Thanks in advance,
Greg
 

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Wipe it down with a damp cloth to raise the grain a bit. Seal it with a coat of Zinsser Seal Coat cut 50/50 with Denatured alcohol. Light sand with 220-320 paper to knock down the nibs. 4 or 5 coats of wiping varnish (unless you have spray capabilities?). Light sanding between coats. Final wiping coat. Rub out with wax and 0000 steel wool. Buff.
Just my method.
There is no absolute best way 'cause everybody will have their process.
Bill
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Bill White said:
Wipe it down with a damp cloth to raise the grain a bit. Seal it with a coat of Zinsser Seal Coat cut 50/50 with Denatured alcohol. Light sand with 220-320 paper to knock down the nibs. 4 or 5 coats of wiping varnish (unless you have spray capabilities?). Light sanding between coats. Final wiping coat. Rub out with wax and 0000 steel wool. Buff.
Just my method.
There is no absolute best way 'cause everybody will have their process.
Bill
Excellent. Does the wiping varnish give me any color control or do I just let it age into its natural color?
 

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Excellent. Does the wiping varnish give me any color control or do I just let it age into its natural color?
There is no colour control with a finish. The finish may make the wood look a little darker. This is normal.

A wipe on finish is just easier to apply for many people than spray or brush on.

You can make the wood darker with stain or dye before applying the finish, but the wood will react as normal to UV.

Keeping the table out of direct sunlight will help.

I love cherry. It will turn deeper orange/brown over time.

I have cherry kitchen cabinets. The doors have changed colour over time. The frame parts behind the doors have not changed as much, and there is a line where the doors have a gap which has changed like the doors. Some folks hate this, I accept it as part of the character of the wood.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Bill White said:
Wipe it down with a damp cloth to raise the grain a bit. Seal it with a coat of Zinsser Seal Coat cut 50/50 with Denatured alcohol. Light sand with 220-320 paper to knock down the nibs. 4 or 5 coats of wiping varnish (unless you have spray capabilities?). Light sanding between coats. Final wiping coat. Rub out with wax and 0000 steel wool. Buff.
Just my method.
There is no absolute best way 'cause everybody will have their process.
Bill
Bill

You suggestions sound spot on. Glue up next Monday and I hope to start finishing shortly thereafter. I think I'll not touch the base and let the Cherry darken naturally. Not sure what to do with the walnut but the end result I'm looking for a darker top and lighter base.

Questions: Your suggestions are NOT a sealed finish yes? (Don't know what Sealcoat is). Reason I ask is I don't know if I'm willing to maintain a finish with waxes, oils, etc. Would you recommend a urethane treatment in that case? On a big table I made, I pre treated with mineral spirits/linseed mix but added a brush on Polyurethane. The big difference was that it was a big ass table. If wax finish is THAT much better, I would be willing to maintain I if you think it's better. Do advise.

Again, Many Thanks.

Greg
 

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Questions: Your suggestions are NOT a sealed finish yes? (Don't know what Sealcoat is). Reason I ask is I don't know if I'm willing to maintain a finish with waxes, oils, etc. Would you recommend a urethane treatment in that case? On a big table I made, I pre treated with mineral spirits/linseed mix but added a brush on Polyurethane. The big difference was that it was a big ass table. If wax finish is THAT much better, I would be willing to maintain I if you think it's better. Do advise.

Again, Many Thanks.

Greg
Sealcoat is a wax free shellac. It's used as a sealer. The mix you used...BLO and mineral spirits (50/50) is a good application to enhance the grain. Using a wipe on oil base polyurethane, or oil base interior varnish would be a sealed topcoat, that needs no further finish...especially wax.




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Discussion Starter #7
Still using Bill's info as a guide to finish my table, could use some clarification:
Bill White said:
Wipe it down with a damp cloth to raise the grain a bit. Seal it with a coat of Zinsser Seal Coat cut 50/50 with Denatured alcohol. Light sand with 220-320 paper to knock down the nibs. 4 or 5 coats of wiping varnish (unless you have spray capabilities?).
Any particular brand of wiping varnish?
Light sanding between coats. Final wiping coat. Rub out with wax and 0000 steel wool. Buff.
Just my method.
There is no absolute best way 'cause everybody will have their process.
Bill
Isn't the wax for a non-varnished or urethaned finish? Also, what's the difference between Polyurethane and Varnish? Advantages, disadvantages?

The end result I'm hoping for is to have both the top and base in their natural colors but richer color, and to really show the grain, knots, etc. Also, I understand that the cherry darkens naturally so want to avoid UV inhibitors, right? Does Sealcoat allow the wood to darken? Finally, as that Cherry darkens, will it turn pinkish? Should I use any certain color of stain for the Cherry?

Below is a (grainy) photo of the table glued and screwed but unfinished. Needs more sanding. I have not wiped it down yet so there is some sawdust still.

Sorry to be such a noob. (This is woodworking project number 2 for me).

Thanks!

Greg
 

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After wiping the wood down with a damp cloth I would sand it with 220 grit paper prior to starting the finishing process. Water raising the grain is an excellent way to make your finish sanding more effective.

It's true cherry darkens with age however you can treat the wood with Sun Block offered by Kwick Kleen which will slow it down. It's like sun screen for wood.

Sealcoat is shellac which has had the wax filtered out of it. They make this version of shellac because polyurethane won't adhere to standard shellac because of the wax content. Shellac doesn't block UV light any more than any other finish. Polyurethane and varnish are very similar but poly is made with polymer resins which make a harder more durable finish.

The walnut top I would fill the grain with a grain filler so you don't see the texture of the wood in the final finish.

For the topcoat if you leave the wood natural in color or use a light stain I think you would be better off using a water based wipe on polyurethane. An oil based varnish or polyurethane will yellow as it ages and isn't suited for light colored woods. You could use a 50/50 solution of linseed oil and mineral spirits to enhance the grain prior to using the sealcoat. Water based finishes kinda give a bland appearance to the wood.
 

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IMO, I would wipe with 50/50 mix of mineral spirits/BLO, let dry, then top with wiping varnish.

A good idea would be to use your scraps and test some different finishes, and see what best suits your idea of what you want. It will cost a couple of $$'s in supplies, but you'll be glad you did.

Very nice looking piece, especially for #2!
 
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Discussion Starter #10
How does this sequence sound?

Trying to reconcile comments for the final this project. The end result I’m looking for a result that does the following:

  • Shows the natural colors of the wood knowing the cherry will darken.
  • Letting the grain and figure “pop”.

I have come up with a finishing sequence below. Please let me know if I’m off target on anything.

  1. Wipe it down with a damp cloth to raise the grain a bit.
  2. sand it with 220 grit paper prior to starting the finishing process.
  3. Seal it with a coat of Zinsser Seal Coat cut 50/50 with Denatured alcohol.
  4. Light sand with 220-320 paper to knock down the nibs.
  5. Boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits (50/50)
  6. 4 or 5 coats waterbase wiping poly. (still a little fuzzy on varnish vs. polyurethane)

  • Light sanding between coats.
  • Final wiping coat.
  • Rub out with wax and 0000 steel wool. Question here: Wax if I'm using poly?

Steve Neul, you suggested a grain filler. Will that make the top shiny? Is there a matte version of this? I don’t know if I mind the texture but does it look more professional with a smoother top?

Again, thanks so much for all your advice.This should be my last round of questions and I hope to show a result soon! This message board has been a terrific educational resource for those of us getting into woodworking.

Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Question related to the one above

Got to the Sealcoat stage. Very cool, the wood really shows through. My question is that the Sealcoat picked up a couple areas where there was a smear of glue. Is it ok to sand those areas (medium, then 220) and dab on a little more Sealcoat? Any reason or problems with a second coating of Sealcoat?

Thanks

Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #12
You could use a 50/50 solution of linseed oil and mineral spirits to enhance the grain prior to using the sealcoat. Water based finishes kinda give a bland appearance to the wood.
Oh crap Steve. I applied the Sealcoat prior to mineral spirits/BLO. Did I blow it? Would it help to sand with 220, apply mineral spirits/linseed and then another coat of Sealcoat?
 

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Oh crap Steve. I applied the Sealcoat prior to mineral spirits/BLO. Did I blow it? Would it help to sand with 220, apply mineral spirits/linseed and then another coat of Sealcoat?
Ha! Too late! (You can probably tell I'm an impatient soul). I just ran a soaked rag of mineral spirits/linseed oil across my Sealcoated-too-soon project and it soaked right through and looks great! I'll report back to ya'll when this thing burst into flames! :eek:
 

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Oh crap Steve. I applied the Sealcoat prior to mineral spirits/BLO. Did I blow it? Would it help to sand with 220, apply mineral spirits/linseed and then another coat of Sealcoat?
I don't think there is a great difference between the appearance of sealcoat and linseed oil. I would just go with it like you are doing.

As far as the grain filler. The flattening agents in the finish determine how shiny the finish is. If you use a flat or satin sheen finish then it won't be shiny. The grain filler would just make the surface smooth like the cherry. For testing purposes you could take some spackle or drywall mud and fill the grain of some scrap walnut and finish over it. It might look weird having the grain filled with something white but it will give you an idea of what the difference in the surface would be using a grain filler.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I don't think there is a great difference between the appearance of sealcoat and linseed oil. I would just go with it like you are doing.

As far as the grain filler. The flattening agents in the finish determine how shiny the finish is. If you use a flat or satin sheen finish then it won't be shiny. The grain filler would just make the surface smooth like the cherry. For testing purposes you could take some spackle or drywall mud and fill the grain of some scrap walnut and finish over it. It might look weird having the grain filled with something white but it will give you an idea of what the difference in the surface would be using a grain filler.
Thanks. I was surprised how easily the BLO/min spirits penetrated the Sealcoat, (thinking it might bead up or cloud up on the Sealcoat).

But it look just fine so I shall proceed with:
Sand again with 220
One more coat of BLO/Min spirits
Steel wool
A few coats of wiping varnish or Poly
(Feel free to comment on the above steps and let me know if any look wrong)

A couple (hopefully last) questions.
1) There's a little blotchy-ness in the cherry. Is there anything I can do without sanding and restarting?
2) I would like the walnut top a smidge darker? Will that happen naturally or should I stain/dye it with something lightly tinted?

Thanks!

Greg
 

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A finish schedule can be simple with some planning. You ultimately have to decide before hand what you want to wind up with. You can keep asking what to put on first or, what can go over what. That can just get you crazy.

For the species you are using, if you are wanting to color it, determine how the species will accept whatever coloring agent you will use. If the species is subject to blotching, you will want to use a conditioner (which is basically a sealer). What it does is seal (according to what is used), which restricts penetration. It does its thing to both soft parts of the wood, and the hard parts.

If no conditioner is determined to be needed, a stain or dye can be used, waterbased, oil based and alcohol based each have their advantages and disadvantages. If enhancing the grain is desired, in the schedule, a few methods can work very well...like the BLO/MS mix.

I find that wetting the wood to raise the grain a waste of time. Under normal finishing steps, any grain if raised gets taken care of.

For a topcoat, we are back to making decisions. Some are better sprayed, and some benefit from being wiped. So, you can see that there are numerous alternatives for establishing a finish. It should start with a plan, and after making samples taken to the topcoat.





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Discussion Starter #17
This should be my last question!

Will there be a problem applying a water based wipe-on polyurethane over my table that so far has been treated with 50/50 mix of boiled linseed oil/denatured alchohol and Sealcoat? The table is completely dry.

Thanks.
Greg
 

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This should be my last question!

Will there be a problem applying a water based wipe-on polyurethane over my table that so far has been treated with 50/50 mix of boiled linseed oil/denatured alchohol and Sealcoat? The table is completely dry.

Thanks.
Greg
No.





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This should be my last question!

Will there be a problem applying a water based wipe-on polyurethane over my table that so far has been treated with 50/50 mix of boiled linseed oil/denatured alchohol and Sealcoat? The table is completely dry.

Thanks.
Greg
Well you have been applying more linseed oil so you should wait three days to a week before applying the water based wipe-on poly or put another coat of sealcoat on as a barrier coat. Linseed oil is incompatible with water based poly so you have to wait until it cures completely or you may have adhesion problems with it.

As far as the blotchiness of the cherry the only thing you could do now if you have the means of spraying is to shade the lighter areas with a dye to even the color up. You could also use toners available in aerosol cans but rattle cans are harder to control so it you go that route you might get a toner that is too light and put multiple coats on.

For the between coats sanding of the poly I would use 220 grit or finer sandpaper especially with a water based finish. If you accidentally leave some of the steel wool debris on the surface and it gets in the finish it may rust.
 

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gthec said:
This should be my last question!

Will there be a problem applying a water based wipe-on polyurethane over my table that so far has been treated with 50/50 mix of boiled linseed oil/denatured alchohol and Sealcoat? The table is completely dry.

Thanks.
Greg
Greg
Why put poly of any kind on it. You got off to a great start with the BLO mix. If your not planning on bowling on it, finish with BLO or wiping varnish.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 
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